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Shimei the Benjamite

Shimei was a man of the Israelite tribe of Benjamin (see Children of Jacob) who held a deep grudge against King David who was of the Israelite tribe of Judah. Why? Because Shimei resented that David had replaced King Saul; Saul and Shimei were both Benjamites. For the behavioral, not tribal, reason that The Lord replaced Saul with David, see the Fact Finder question below.

"Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed The Lord's anointed?"

When David was forced to flee Jerusalem during an attempted coup by his own son Absalom, Shimei, thinking that David's days as king were over, vented his rage at David - which David humbly submitted himself to.

The Tower of David

"And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came. And he cast stones [see also Stoning] at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial: The Lord hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and The Lord hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man."

"Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head."

"And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because The Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?"

"And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for The Lord hath bidden him. It may be that The Lord will look on mine affliction, and that The Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day."

"And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill's side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust. And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed themselves there." (2 Samuel 16:5-14 KJV)

After the defeat of Absalom (see also Absalom's Advisors) and the return of King David, Shimei repented to David and David forgave him - but in doing so David did not become blind to the danger that Shimei continued to present until the next opportunity to participate in an overthrow of David.

"And Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite, which was of Bahurim, hasted and came down with the men of Judah to meet king David. And there were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went over Jordan before the king. And there went over a ferry boat to carry over the king's household, and to do what he thought good. And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was come over Jordan; And said unto the king, Let not my lord impute iniquity unto me, neither do thou remember that which thy servant did perversely the day that my lord the king went out of Jerusalem, that the king should take it to his heart. For thy servant doth know that I have sinned: therefore, behold, I am come the first this day of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king."

"But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed The Lord's anointed? [see Israelite Dynasties] And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me? shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel? Therefore the king said unto Shimei, Thou shalt not die. And the king sware unto him" (2 Samuel 19:16-23 KJV)

Despite the insistence of many of his true loyalists to do so, David refused to kill Shimei - but when the time came that David was about to die of old age, he warned his son and successor Solomon about the danger that Shimei's opposition continued to present to the throne of Israel which had been chosen directly by The Lord (Solomon was faced with other threats at the same time, some right from within his own family - see Abishag). Unlike his father David, Solomon was not a warrior, but like his father David, Solomon was no fool when it came to political reality (see Royal Democracy).

"And, behold, thou hast with thee Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite of Bahurim, which cursed me with a grievous curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim: but he came down to meet me at Jordan, and I sware to him by The Lord, saying, I will not put thee to death with the sword. Now therefore hold him not guiltless: for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him; but his hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood." (1 Kings 2:8-9 KJV)

Solomon bided his time and simply allowed the treacherous Shimei to create the circumstance for his own lawful elimination.

"And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Build thee an house in Jerusalem, and dwell there, and go not forth thence any whither. For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die: thy blood shall be upon thine own head. And Shimei said unto the king, The saying is good: as my lord the king hath said, so will thy servant do. And Shimei dwelt in Jerusalem many days."

"And it came to pass at the end of three years, that two of the servants of Shimei ran away unto Achish son of Maachah king of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying, Behold, thy servants be in Gath. And Shimei arose, and saddled his ass, and went to Gath to Achish to seek his servants: and Shimei went, and brought his servants from Gath."

"And it was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath, and was come again. And the king sent and called for Shimei, and said unto him, Did I not make thee to swear by The Lord, and protested unto thee, saying, Know for a certain, on the day thou goest out, and walkest abroad any whither, that thou shalt surely die? and thou saidst unto me, The word that I have heard is good. Why then hast thou not kept the oath of The Lord, and the commandment that I have charged thee with?"

"The king said moreover to Shimei, Thou knowest all the wickedness which thine heart is privy to, that thou didst to David my father: therefore The Lord shall return thy wickedness upon thine own head; And king Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before The Lord for ever."

"So the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; which went out, and fell upon him, that he died. And the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon." (1 Kings 2:36-46 KJV)

Fact Finder: Why did The Lord replace King Saul with King David?
See Saul

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